Wellington City Council is struggling to meet statutory timeframe requirements for building consents amidst a staff shortage and increasing construction projects.
It's finding it difficult to attract and retain technical experts going up against the Government's new National Building Consent Authority, the council's Quarter 1 Report 2019/20 claims.
The situation has become so desperate WCC has applied a market premium rate to remuneration packages for several roles to secure staff in a fiercely competitive market.
This will result in an overspend during the 2019/20 financial year before it looks to increase service fees from July 1, 2020.
Council officers have reported that meeting their 20 working day statutory requirement for building consents is becoming increasingly difficult with the current workload and staffing shortage.
In an attempt to meet timeframes for resource consents a "heavy reliance" has been placed on external consultants but that was not considered sustainable in terms of cost and reliability.
There are currently three inspectors and four consenting officer vacancies, two of which are new positions in an effort to keep up with demand.
Staff have been working overtime to plug the gap, city consenting and compliance manager Mark Pattemore said.
"Carrying vacancies puts pressure on us being able to meet our statutory timeframes. We currently have high numbers of code of compliance certificate applications at the same time as heavy inspection bookings.
"Our officers have been working additional hours to assist us to meet timeframes.
"For the most part we are meeting our 20 working day statutory timeframe, although we acknowledge in some cases it may take a little longer to get a building consent or schedule an inspection", Pattemore said.
Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities plans to establish its own building consent authority to process most state house building consents.
They were aware that across New Zealand there was high demand in both the public and private sectors for people with the skill and experience to assess and inspect buildings, Kāinga Ora National Building Consent Authority Manager Anna McCrossan said.
The authority should actually reduce duplication where both council inspectors and Kāinga Ora's own quality assurance teams are assessing the same homes for similar purposes.
Furthermore, when Kāinga Ora processes its own building consents, it will reduce the consenting workload for councils.
McCrossan confirmed they had two vacancies in Wellington which are in the process of being filled.
"The building inspector team has 13 technical staff and to date, none of these staff have come directly from Wellington City Council", she said.
WCC is also competing with other councils and commercial companies against the backdrop of an increase in building and construction work.
"This is not a unique situation; New Zealand as a whole is suffering from a shortage of building consent officers," Pattemore said.
The Quarter 1 report shows two of the council's Urban Development KPIs relating to timeframes for resource and building consents were not met because of these issues.
Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa said ultimately it was the responsibility of councils to ensure they have adequate numbers of qualified staff.
But she said there were initiatives in place, like the Construction Skills Action Plan, to address the skills shortage.
"We have been listening to the sector, including councils, on a range of workforce supply issues. We are working together through the Construction Sector Accord to address a number of the long-term issues we face."